Feature

Editor's Letter: Taking care of their own

People have an instinct to take care of their own, but depending on the circumstances, this bit of human nature can be problematic and even scandalous.

People have an instinct to take care of their own, but depending on the circumstances, this bit of human nature can be problematic and even scandalous. Consider last week’s state report on the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech, which revealed that some 90 minutes before school officials issued a campus-wide alert, at least two administrators warned loved ones that a killer was on the loose. The shooter had already killed two people in a dorm, but officials were concerned about touching off a panic. In the absence of a lockdown, kids went to the classroom building where the killer rampaged. Relatives of the 32 students and teachers killed that day were outraged to learn that some members of the community may have gained a survival advantage due to their inside connections.

We’re more accustomed to seeing this kind of display in politics, in the form of nepotism and cronyism. The most recent case in point: News accounts last week revealed that Sen. Max Baucus had tried to get his girlfriend, Melodee Hanes, appointed as Montana’s U.S. attorney, neglecting to inform the Obama administration of their personal involvement. Baucus says he pushed for Hanes, a former state prosecutor who once worked for him, only because she was “highly qualified.” She ultimately took herself out of contention, but Republicans are now calling for an ethics investigation and Democrats are rallying to Baucus’ defense. “Max is a good friend, an outstanding senator, and he has my full support,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. A good friend, huh? That pretty much settles that.

Eric Effron

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